Help me decide

What to do for my finals?? I have a bunch and need to narrow them down and focus on ONE project for the next two weeks.

1. Enhance the AR project.

I would actually move the AR codes into playing cards and laying them down the table would project different words. I was thinking of making it a language learning tool. By arranging them in the correct order/ syntax, you will get the english translation.

OR

haptic interface via IR, same as above but a touchscreen keyboard on plexi.

OR

Hang a bunch of AR codes around and when a camera or phone is pointed at it, it will display a “virtual forest” with vines or branches linking between the AR codes.

2. Enhance the midterm project.

Instead of putting random unrelated images as I walk through space using the kinect. I’d like to project an actual scene that would give you the illusion of actually walking through space.

OR

Generate an interactive scene that would respond to your proximity and facial reactions much like a camera enabled Eliza psychotherapist bot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELIZA

3. I’d like to make a digital camera obscura box. But it seems to me that the illusion is lost when it moves to the digital form compared to the actual physics involved in projecting it.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/05/camera-obscura/camera-obscura-video

So I’m reaching out to the class to help me decide.

Cambria to Monterey

Cambria to Monterey: 103 miles

http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=35.565982,-121.07833&daddr=moneterey&geocode=FZ6xHgIdxn3I-A%3BFa55LgId7Ai8-CmR-7VwUuSNgDFePUrYCUlI7g&sll=35.608185,-119.816895&sspn=1.098637,5.625&ie=UTF8&ll=36.081455,-121.50837&spn=1.03751,0.85984&t=m&output=embed

View Larger Map

I woke up to a foggy Monday morning in Cambria but Tim the innkeeper informed me that the fog would blow away by 10am. I had coffee and some chocolate chip muffins I packed myself and headed to San Simeon and Hearst Castle.

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The road footage of the previous day was garbage so I made a few modifcations to the camera setup and it worked great. It was a short 10 miles to Hearst Castle so I got there on the very first tour of the day.

Hearst Castle and William Hearst is the inpsiration for Orson Welles’ classic, Citizen Kane. Sadly I missed the evening screening of the film at Hearst Castle last Friday but today will do.

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The castle was donated by the Hearst Corporation to the State of California in 1957 and is now managed by the California State Parks. They do still own the surrounding land where Black Angus cows graze along with zebras who are descendants of the exotic animals that Hearst once populated the area with.

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The house was a continuos project of Hearst and architect Julia Morgan.

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I’ll save the details about the tour for the documentary but on with the road. It was 10am by the time I got back to car and started to set the car back up. Not far from San Simeon are Elephant Seal colonies where I stopped by and took some pictures and video before I set on for the challenge of the day. Big Sur.

Big Sur is the most exciting and deadliest part of California 1 that requires you to check road conditions before setting off as there could be landslides. The fog had moved inland and roads were dry and the sun was out which made for an excellent day to drive up.

The road winds it’s way along the California coast with tight switchbacks and hairpin turns with a suggested speed limit of 20mph. But with the car I was driving I could make the turns at 35-40mph.

Throughout this part of the trip, there were three times where traffic was controlled due to construction. One of the things to keep in mind about the highway is your rearview mirror. There are numerous turnouts for slower cars to use to let faster cars through. Sadly, many drivers don’t know this thus making the trip a lot longer than it should.

After passing these vehicles eventually, it was now time to take note of the damage on the road. Orange traffic cones line the edges of highway marking places where rock slides had destroyed the road recently and taking the steel barriers with it. A huge bridge construction effort is underway thus making us wait for at least 15 minutes before we could pass.

Just last year, the road was closed for seven months due to damage. It’s a sad reality that such a beautiful road is being reclaimed by the sea.

The Mazda RX-3 2012 base model worked perfectly. The front wheel drive of the car enabled ease of turning the corners and just having fun.

California 1 is not a place you would want to drive during the summer. The road is filled with people going back and fourth along with numerous bike tourers. Most bike tours go from north to south which to predominantly downhill coupled with favorable tail winds and the coast on your side, thus making a perfect ride. Being on a bike also provides the opportunity to experience the road like no other. You can stop in the middle of Bixby Bride and enjoy the view. Something you can’t do in car. It’s something I’d like to do but I’ll get into shape first before trying this out. Michael Ballard over at crazyguyonabike.com has a great journal on his trip down the coast in 2010.

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I hit Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey around lunch time and proceeded to Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach is home to the famous 17 Mile Drive and Golf Course. It’s a private area thus requiring all vehicles to pay $9.50 to take in the scenery. Bikes get in for free. No motorcycles though.

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The views here are amazing as the Pacific waves crash on the jagged rocks of Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach is also home to the world’s most photographed tree. The Lone Cypress tree which is estimated to be 250 years old is also the trademarked tree of Pebble Beach thus making it illegal to photograph the tree for commercial purposes. The tree is actually being held in place by steel cables to prevent it from falling into the ocean. At least the cables aren’t that visible.

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I drove into the tourist area of Moneterey and checked in for the night.

Not far from Monterey is Salinas, birthplace of John Steinbeck and home to the Laguna Seca Racing circuit. But it is over in Monterey where Steinbeck made famous the Cannery Row, where fishing boats that netted the waters of Moneterey Bay docked and sardines were packed until over fishing killed the industry. Now all that remains is a tourist row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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I’ve never been to the aquarium before so I made it a point to visit on this trip. It’s not Sea World, but the collection is still amazing. Their collection of jellyfish and sea horses is just stunning. The aquarium highlights the biodiversity of the Monterey coast (which by the way is a protected area that stretches all the way to San Simeon).

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After I had cioppino for lunch the rain and the wind started to come in. I then made my way to San Francisco up along the 1 since it was a weekday and I knew the traffic that was ahead of me as I drove up the peninsula. This version of the documentary will end here but I will keep adding on to it as I come across more stories and information about the coast.

Tokyo 1954

Notes to follow.

Flash cards

augmentedcards

While most everyone is using Junaio I decided to use the AR toolkit instead. I wanted to make something like magnetic letters on a refrigerator. I got the idea for this in church where each code represents a word.

One of the first things I encountered was the words were coming out in reverse. Even though I’ve already used the pushMatrix and popMatrix command in Processing 2.04a, the video now mirrored me, but the text was still in reverse. I attribute this to a bug but I’m not so sure. To solve this annoying problem, I projected the sketch to the wall and reverse projected it. Thus the letters finally came out the right way.

I just used a short phrase composing of 8 words, but the current library does not allow the same AR image to be repeated twice. Or I may need to fiddle with the code some more.

Putting the AR cards side by side gives me a phrase.

augmentedcards

What could this secret messgae mean?

augmentedcards

This may give me an idea for the final project if I plan to expand this.

import processing.video.*;

// Processing 2.04a + NyARToolkit 1.1.7
//pared down from Amnon Owed http://www.creativeapplications.net/processing/augmented-reality-with-processing-tutorial-processing/

import java.io.*; // for the loadPatternFilenames() function
import processing.opengl.*; // for OPENGL rendering
import jp.nyatla.nyar4psg.*; // the NyARToolkit Processing library

PFont myFont;
String the ="there";
String is ="is";
String no ="no";
String id ="I";
String there ="there";
String is2 ="is";
String only ="only";
String us ="us";

Capture cam;
MultiMarker nya;

void setup() {

size(640, 480, OPENGL);
myFont=loadFont("Helvetica-48.vlw");
cam = new Capture(this, 640, 480);
cam.start();
frameRate(15);

// create a new MultiMarker at a specific resolution (arWidth x arHeight), with the default camera calibration and coordinate system
nya = new MultiMarker(this, width, height, "camera_para.dat", NyAR4PsgConfig.CONFIG_DEFAULT);
// set the delay after which a lost marker is no longer displayed. by default set to something higher, but here manually set to immediate.
//nya.setLostDelay(1);

nya.addARMarker("4x4_1.patt", 80); //your have to print out the cooresponding pdf file and put the .patt files in data folder
nya.addARMarker("4x4_2.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_3.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_4.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_5.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_6.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_7.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_8.patt", 80);
}

void draw() {

background(255); // a background call is needed for correct display of the marker results
cam.read();
//image(cam, 0, 0, width, height); // display the image at the width and height of the sketch window
// flip image horizonatlly
pushMatrix();
scale(-1, 1);
translate(-cam.width, 0);
// image(cam, 0, 0, width, height);
popMatrix();
// pushMatrix();
// scale(-1,0);
nya.detect(cam); // detect markers in the input image at the correct resolution (incorrect resolution will give assertion error)

if (nya.isExistMarker(0)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(0)); //use this marker to translate and rotate the processing drawing
translate(0, 0); //offset half the size of the cube.
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(the, 0, 0);
}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(1)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(1));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(is, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(2)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(2));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(no, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(3)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(3));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(id, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(4)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(4));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(there, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(5)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(5));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(is2, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(6)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(6));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(only, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(7)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(7));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(us, 0, 0);

}
// popMatrix();
}

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Ye7ODytIM

Ultra HD Digital 8k

It’s been a long time coming but it’s application remains to be seen.

In 2006, researchers at the NHK demonstrated in Las Vegas a transmission of Ultra High Definition Television with 22.2 surround sound. THe broadcast was from Tokyo to Osaka via an IP network running at 1Gbps. Uncompressed, the sound signal alone an at 20 Mbps while the video signal ran at 24 Gbps.

Current broadcast standards runs at MPEG-2 compressions with a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080. Ultra HD runs at 7680 x 4320 pixels.

Developed by the NHK in Japan, ultra HD has 4000 scanning lines compared to just 1080 for the current broadcast system.

In 2007, SMPTE approves the Ultra HDTV as a standard format.

The BBC will broadcast the London Summer Olympics in ultraHD.

Each frame is equal to 33 Megapixels.

I can see this as the digital IMAX but more. The 100 degree viewing angle allows for an image that can simulate human perception. It’s quite hard to describe since the image is huge but the experience is almost realistic.

This type of imaging is a step forward to building that holodeck. The amount of detail that the resolution provides will be able to show more infomation for computers to see. Although current limitations would be enough processing power to process the data.

 

Santa Monica to Cambria

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Santa+Monica,+CA&daddr=34.05997,-118.69429+to:35.565982,-121.07833&hl=en&geocode=FX4YBwIdyffv-CkZAJHCzqTCgDGr9SP_tQoXtA%3BFcK2BwIdbt7s-Cl3iv-i6h_ogDHsjjKuK3UCng%3BFZ6xHgIdxn3I-A&aq=0&oq=my+&sll=34.042419,-118.692169&sspn=0.264002,1.40625&mra=dpe&mrsp=1&sz=10&via=1&dmli=2&glp=1&ie=UTF8&ll=34.042419,-118.692169&spn=0.264002,1.40625&t=m&output=embed

View Larger Map

So my journey begins on the part of California 1 on Santa Monica beach. Let’s get an overview of the purpose of trip. Two years ago I fell in love with the road here in California. It provided amazing landscapes and driving opportunity that made me want to make this. My dream is to eventually photograph/ document various coastlines along the Pacific Ocean.

Santa Monica Pier

The Pacific Coast Highway is a an All-American Road, the other one is Route 66. Highway 1 shares it with the US 101 and even Interstate 5 at some points. But the most beautiful parts of California 1 is part where I’m driving tomorrow, the area between Big Sur and Monterey.

But for today, it’s from Santa Monica to Cambria.

With gas prices at an al time high, hybrid cars were nowhere to be found at the Hertz rental. I was shocked that they offered a Hyundai as a replacement. I know it’s a great car and great gas mileage. But seriously?!?. So I went for the Mazda RX-3 sedan version. My friend had this car and it was awesome and so was this one. Very sporty and even has a manual transmission option should I want it. Yes please.

Cameras used for this are the Sony NEX C3, Panasonic Lumix LX-5 and a Nikon D200. Mounting them was a challenge. The focal length of the Sony was a bit short plus all the shaking in car with the roads meant that most of my footage from day 1 is useless. Salvageable but it will take a lot of work.

Lumix video was great but ran out of batteries. I do have an audio recording of the whole thing so that’s good. As for the D200, I’l need to make a few adjustments today to get better images but the system is working as I had hoped.

The trip took me roughly four hours and it was long. Most of it on the US101 to get better time as the sun was setting and night driving will make shooting difficult.

Getting out of Southern California is easier said than done. For some reason the 405 was not moving. Good thing I decided to start from Santa Monica. This allowed me to bypass that area completely and take the PCH up to Malibu, hand a right at Pepperdine University and hit the 101 from there.

The weather was great so everyone was out at the beach. Which meant traffic.

The Malibu canyons gave a great opportunity to get a feel for the car with it’s twists and turns and I was happy. The rental reminds me of my own car back home.

I had been running on coffee with my “jetlag” from New York the whole day and things were getting dicey at around Santa Maria, a good 1 1/2 hours from Cambria. Gas mileage wasn’t so good. I stopped for gas in San Luis Obispo and filled up 7.5 gallons.

It was well into the night once I got to the inn in Cambria where I would spend the night to recharge and prepare for the next day.

Mass Effect 3 Commentary SPOILERS AHEAD!

http://youtu.be/GmECZm1RsN8

 

After 5 years of going through the Mass Effect storyline it all came to an end for me yesterday. I think that I should blog about this while emotions are still fresh and the wounds are still bleeding(It is war afterall).

Bioware set out in 2007 to create a space opera that rivaled that of Star Wars and they succeeded. Even though the first game was forgettable, the story was there and they returned in 2009 and redeemed themselves with Mass Effect 2. 

Bioware stood out as a western game developer that could make roleplaying games or RPGs that challenged the dominance of JRPGs at the time and triumphed.

With Mass Effect 2 being the “dark” story much like Star Wars’ Empire Stikes Back, it set itself up for an epic finale. The Reapers would finally arrive and the bring an end to the story of YOUR Commander Shepard.

Like many others, I pre-ordered the game and patiently waited for news and the eventual release of the game.

Sometime between the last quarter of 2011, a production script of the game was posted on a Russian forum. One could assume that it was authentic as it was given a takedown order. I held off reading it and there were even some posts on the internet that Bioware should not change their story just because the script leaked out. 

As it turns out, they should’ve probably changed the script.

TURN ON CONSPIRACY MODE.

It’s interesting that the ENTIRE script is leaked out in the public just months away from release. By this time, it can be assumed that the script was already locked in (no changes are made) and the entire voice cast have already done their job and are just waiting for the promotional tour of the game. Could it be that some Bioware employee was not happy on how the game ended?

I was able to copy the script before it was taken down and just saved it on my hard drive but not reading it. Now that I finished the game, I had to compare the finished product. Unless you knew how the game progresses, the script is a bit hard to put together on your own. But the endings are the same.

WHAT”S THE POINT OF ALL THIS?

Mass Effect 3 is a great franchise and a great game. If you’ve never played the game before, you should now. The last few games that gripped my heart were Final Fantasy 7’s Aerith’s death and Final Fantasy X for the ending. Those games were made a while back in another console generation so it’s been a while for me to be placed on an emotional rollercoaster all because of a game.

Why is that? Is it becuase of the countless hours spent with the controller as we went through man made environments? The Final Fantasy series has been more like an interactive movie with you running and fighting around and upon reaching certain points in the game you are rewarded by a magnificent cutscene that should be in movie theaters and not your tiny TV.

Yu Suzuki was among the first if not the first to create an open-ended game with Shenmue. Too ahead of it’s time and problems of distribution (released exclusively on the Dreamcast and Xbox) ended the story but not the idea.

Peter Moleneux, creator of Fable attempted the same approach as well. By creating a world where you build up your strengths and abilities to battle a foe in the end. Your choices allow you create a world built around you but in a medival setting with non realistic graphics. But for some reason, I could not sympathize with the character I created there. There was no emotional hook for me. Sure you can have a family and kids, own everything in sight and so on, but it was all an afterthought and not integral to the story. The best relationship you can get out of the game is with your dog and that’s it.

Bioware has placed interactive storytelling in another level. Here decisions matter. Relationships with your crewmembers matter and decided if they live or die. Decisions made early the game determine the eventual outcome of a mission later in the game. Your crewmembers become a part of you and as the game progresses, you see them mature and develop, as did you. Does any of this sound familiar? It’s called real life.

Yes, Bioware had managed to put in over 23GB of data the experience of saving the galaxy and having a love interest at the same time while fending off advances from other crewmates. The Commander Shepard I made, is my Shepard. It’s not only my Shepard, but also in some psychological way, an extension of me. The choices I made are based on my own morals, and own ideas. I cringe whenever I reach a point where I am aware that the path I choose can make my friend love me or hate me. Bioware has made us too involved with the game.

WHY IS THIS GAME IS GOOD.

The game is fantastic. You can tell early on that the game begins to wrap up loose ends. You see people you interacted with in the previous two games and bring closure to their stories based on your actions. The script written is one of the best I’ve heard in a game. I know some of it is cheesy. But that’s how it really is The playful banter between the characters puts a smile to my face. ME3 shows the the most intimate parts of either a growing relationship or rekindling one from the past. Added to the fact that the voice acting is top notch, makes you fall in love all over again.

I could see it now. I would save the galaxy, bring peace everywhere and live quietly with a family and lots of litte blue children.

WTF ENDING

But like life, it throws you a curveball and this one came out of nowehere. Up until the ending, you could control almost every decision made until that point. In Mass Effect 1, it was simply save the Destiny Acension or the Alliance Fleet. Who should lead the council (BTW this should have been a hint, your choice here doesn’t matter)? It was easy, fall in love, stop a rogue Spectre, and prevent a race of sentient machines from killing us all.

Mass Effect 2 was bit more complicated, you had to gain the loyalty of your crew or else they will not survive the Suicide mission you’re on. Plus all the choices you made in the first game carry over.

Mass Effect 3 takes a different approach and math towards the end. The galaxy is at war and you must gather allies and war assets that will determine the fate of the Earth and the universe. The higher the number, the better are your chances in defeating the Reapers. This is the first game that employes multiplayer. This is also the first game that REQUIRES you to play the multiplayer to get the “best” ending. The default is 50% war readiness. That means even if you have 6000pts in war assets, your final strength is only half that. I could still live with that.

So the end finally comes, you have your great confrontation where it all started, then what? You choose to either, die and send everyone to the dark ages, or die and still send everyone to the dark ages. WTF!?! Then what was the point of the past three games that I played to get to this point. It immediately felt that everything I did was all for nothing. I would bring peace, yes. But at what cost? Hasn’t the price been paid yet with billions of virtual lives against the reapers enough? Wasn’t it enough that I died and came back to fight another day satisfactory for the universe? True, Bioware has stated that this only marks the end of Commander Shepard’s story arc and that more can come from the Mass Effect universe, but I feel that their ending killed any notion of that ever happening. 

MASS REJECTION 

If Amazon reviews and the forums at bioware.com is any indicator of the disappointment of fans of the game who have played it, the outlook is not good. What initially started as a 5 star game is now falling to the 3 star mark for one flaw. The ending. It hasn’t been a week since the relase of the game and there are numerous threads with one posting over 680 pages are of this posting on how the ending was a big let down for everyone. Online petitions have sprung up and creative types have been writing their own endings in fanfiction format to get over the grief of the ending. 

I finished the game at 2AM Saturday morning and was shell shocked. I could not move after I saw the credits roll. It was just shock and a broken heart. There was no family and little blue children in the future of my Shepard. 

Bioware hasn’t responded to the fans reaction as of this posting.

DLC OPTION?

Could a DLC fix this? Could the scene at the Citadel be all just a dream in Shepard’s head? Maybe. In ME2 Liara T’Soni, a pivotal character in many ways was relegated to a a few pages of dialogue and nothing more. Fans were initally put off by this since her role in ME2 is a lot bigger than what you imagined. Then Bioware made us all happy by releasing “The Lair of the Shadow Broker” which tied up that end which was more relationship in my opinion and not plot based.

But the post-game scenario, (when you finish the game and all) will return you to the bridge of the Normandy before you attacked the Illusive Man’s base. How can you insert the DLC “Ending” when plotwise, you haven’t ended it yet. It’s not like the Dragon Age DLC there you are either in camp or in your estate.

EPILOGUE

Closure is what fans were expecting from this game and sadly so was I. Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II endings were abrupt but enabled characters an epilogue on what happened afterward. It was easy to accept since you knew they had a sequel in development. Much like in “Return of the King” in The Lord of the RIngs trilogy, you knew what happened to all of the other charcters after they defeated Sauron. But in the case of ME3, you know that this was “supposed” to end the story. This has no comforting ending. We were hoping for a story that we could sleep soundly with. Apparently many are losing sleep over this.

QUESTIONS QUESTIONS AND MORE QUESTIONS

The game was understandable up until the conflict with the Illusive Man. Then everything went to the twilight zone.

  • Who is that kid on top of the Citadel?
  • Who made the Reapers?
  • Why were synthetics out to kill organics every 50,000 years?
  • How did your squad on Earth ended up at the Normandy running away from the blast when you were all together at the final charge to the Citadel?
  • Why did the kid show two choices? Why give you a choice at all? It seemed that he was still controlling everyone to the very end.
  • Who is that father and son in the snowy background after the credits? The tale of Shepard?

In the end, Bioware has only succeeded in creating more questions than answering those already here. Sure it tries to have the unconventional ending like the Matrix Revolutions but that doomed the franchise. 

DID BIOWARE REALLY HAVE AN ENDING IN MIND?

This is a short game. It can be completed under 30 hours without multiplayer. Did Bioware really know what they were doing with the game? As a filmmaker, the ending is uninspired. Though the scenes leading up to the end is very good. The fall of Thessia, the Quarians and the Geth, Fall of Earth, the hope that you bring across the galaxy, the personal conversations witj your crew are all well thought out of. The ending felt as if the wrtiers/ creators could not decide on how to end it. 

How would you explain the purpose of the universal extinction? Was the end an afterthought? “We’ll create this magnificent spcae opera and think about the ending when we get there.” 

HOW DO YOU FIX THIS?

If this game will be patched, this will be a very large patch. It would definitely cost Bioware a fair amount of money since they would have to do all new voice acting and animation. Only time will tell if Bioware will stick to their ending or give in to player’s demands. But as of now, I will be nursing a broken heart. Not only did my Shepard not survive. But there’s no one else around me that matters.